Forget the Resolutions: Try an Experiment in the New YearJan 11, 2021
New year, new... experiment? Hear us out. All it takes is one scroll through social media to become overwhelmed with the talk of new year resolutions and salesy pitches from companies. “New year, new you” or “finally drop the weight” - blah blah blah. We all logically know that January 1st does not necessarily mean we are ready for major change and commitment.
Setting a lofty goal meant to last an entire 12 months and end in your dream result is shall we say, unrealistic? Overwhelming at the very least. What if you shifted the goal mindset to one of experimentation? A fluid, ever-changing process that would allow for setbacks and break large goals into manageable chunks?
Think about it. Your goal is to drop 20lbs (we’ll use a common one for January). You could set the goal of revamping your diet to include only organic home-cooked meals and getting to the gym at least 5 times a week. Both of those goals are great and would come with many benefits. BUT, would you do it? What happens on that day you work late or were up all night with your child? Organic goes quickly out the window when there is leftover mac and cheese and a couch waiting for you.
The problem could be that the goals are too large. So just break it down, right? Cook five days a week and go to the gym 3 days? Same issue, this time your child is sick and you’re laid up on the couch with them for a week. Wait, do you even enjoy cooking? Do you have a gym you belong to? What about your workouts, are they effective? There is still too many factors, too much room for error without the grace to learn from these errors.
Experiments make room for and welcome mistakes because this is how we learn and improve. Taking the pressure off to be perfect automatically leads to higher motivation. Experiments are also often for a shorter period of time as the hope is that you will be regularly reflecting on the experience and making any needed adjustments. This shorter timeframe increases commitment.
Let’s look at an example: Your goal is to lose 20lbs. You typically cook at home five days a week and order in on the weekend, pizza is your favorite. Could you experiment with making Friday night “pizza night” and finding a new healthier recipe each week to make at home? It seems small in the grand scheme of losing weight but think about the potential benefits: trying new ingredients in the kitchen, potentially finding a new hobby, bonding with friends and family if you cook together, etc. But if it doesn’t work out then that’s ok too!
Maybe Friday needs to stay a takeout night because it is when you are most stressed (important information to know about yourself!). Could you try Saturday pizza night instead? If the homemade pizza just isn’t cutting it, could you make your next experiment to try a new vegetable each day? Same benefits, different goal/experiment.
There is no guilt and shame over “failing” - you are learning! Learning to make sustainable changes that will work for your lifestyle and that you can maintain for the long-term. No goal worth committing to is “one and done.” You need to figure out the HOW of what you will actually stick with (and this could change regularly!).
What makes an experiment effective?
- Define the WHY for wanting to start.
- Be specific enough to have a focus but flexible enough to allow for changes.
- Break “goal” into smaller steps.
- Commit to a realistic but useful amount of time for each stage of your experiment (hint: one week usually won’t be enough to gather the info you need).
- Have a plan in place for setbacks and lessons learned: will you journal them, make notes on your phone, etc.?
- Remember the week three “funk” and prepare for it. Any behavior change often becomes more difficult to maintain around week 3. Knowing this in advance will allow you to take action to combat any lack of motivation.
- Remember that behaviors do take some time to become habits, approximately 3-8 months. Give yourself grace if things do not feel easy or natural at first.
- Have an accountability partner(s). Share what you’re doing with others and have a system to check in with them regularly about your progress.
Experimenting is a great way to reframe your thinking and allows for failure. So we encourage you to get started today.
We’d love to hear what you’re planning for your first experiment. Drop us a note to let us know! Also, don’t forget we are always here to help… accountability, connection, and results are kind of our thing. :)